A Taxing Problem

September 13, 2010

**ahem**

The fog lifts. A sense of order restored. My out-of-body self has returned to its proper place after having spent the better part of the last 36 hours, looking down upon my lifeless corporeality, tsk tsking the ridiculously outrageous behaviour which shaved years from my existence without delivering any of the hard won wisdom that usually accompanies such a destructive trajectory.

Not another drop.

I’ll never smoke again.

I can’t believe I hate the whole thing.

As you may or may not have read here a couple days ago, I took a powder for a few days after hearing Joe Pantalone fall into line behind his fellow front running mayoral candidates in saying that, if elected, he would phase out of the city’s vehicle registration tax. The lone progressive in a pack of reactionary hounds caterwauling tiresome anti-government doggerel (h/t Bob Snider), Pantalone chose to switch rather than fight and handed his anti-tax opponents a big ol’ hatchet to further cut the legs out from under the administration he’d been part of for the past seven years. He said bringing in the tax had been a ‘mistake’ and that there was no ‘moral authority’ behind it because the people of Toronto were ‘unanimously’ opposed to it.

Not true because I don’t remember anyone from the Pantalone camp asking for my opinion on the matter.

But.. but.. but.. it was suggested to me when I expressed my distaste with the move, it’s a very small percentage of the city’s budget, accounting for an infinitesimally meagre portion of revenue. A necessary sacrifice in the face of a right wing contagion that had hit the campaign. Times being what they are and all that.

Yeah well, believe it or not, it’s not just anti-tax crusaders who demand that politicians stay true to their principles. “The power of taxing people and their property is essential to the very existence of government.” So said the 4th president of the United States, James Madison. To tax is to govern. To untax in the face of popular displeasure is to abdicate responsibility.

Worse still for Joe Pantalone is the fact that he was a key figure in pushing this tax through just a couple years. The VRT was one of two new taxes that the city introduced after the City of Toronto Act granted it new taxation powers to help fill the budgetary holes created, at least in part, by the province’s continued disinclination to re-assume the costs of services it had downloaded onto municipalities nearly 10 years ago. It was a modest step in the direction of more fiscal autonomy for Toronto. With fiscal autonomy comes greater self-sufficiency and independence. To tax is to govern.

It seems that Deputy Mayor Pantalone is simply one of those municipal politicians who doesn’t want any more responsibility as part of his job description. He’s spent months and months out campaigning, pointing out the unfairness of the tax structure at work between the three levels of government. Along with David Miller, he helped start taking baby steps to alleviate that inequality. But in the face of irrational and misguided hostility from a voting bloc driven more by their own well-being rather than the health of the larger whole, Pantalone caved.

I demand sterner stuff from my mayor. Someone not so easily cowed. That’s why I can no longer support the candidacy of Joe Pantalone.

soberly submitted by Cityslikr